Hi friends! I am super excited to pair up with Shelley Gray of Teaching in the Early Years for a review/giveaway swap this week! I am reviewing her fabulous Early Finishers Board product, and she is checking out my Beach Theme Classroom Essentials Set! Keep reading to find out more about some super easy differentiation solutions!
I know you are always looking for fabulous ways to challenge your early finishers so they are not wreaking havoc in your room or have parents that are disgruntled because "their child is not learning anything new." Differentiation in any mixed-ability classroom is tough, especially when you have reading and math levels that can span HUGE gaps. When you have students that can barely sound out words sitting next to others that are reading 3 years beyond their current grade level, finding AGE-APPROPRIATE materials can end up being a lesson in frustration on your part. Well, that is until now anyway...
I had the sincere pleasure to review Shelley Gray's Early Finisher Board product and was. blown. away! As a former gifted intervention specialist, I was constantly trying to work with teachers to differentiate for those students that always seemed to finish early (and actually had the practice correct). Nothing burns me up more than a teacher just assigning more practice of the same concept to those that finish early IF it is correct. That is a waste of time for students who have already shown mastery of the concept by completing the earlier practice. More practice is not going to help them to learn it better. "Tutoring" others also will not teach them something new. It might deepen their level of understanding to a point, but they should not be used on a consistent basis as an alternative to meaningful new content. It is not a best practice. OK, off my soapbox and on to telling you how this awesome resource will alleviate all those issues. :)
Shelley's Early Finisher Board is a COMPLETE set of materials for students grades 1-4 who finish work early. They will need to be able to read, but if they are finishing early anyway, chances are they should be able to do the work listed. You start by buying and putting together this tri-fold project board, which I love because if you don't have room to display it all the time, you can fold it up and slide it next to a desk or filing cabinet.
On the board, you will place 7 main category headings that will not change all year: Read It, Write It, Journal It, Solve It, Draw It, Do It, and Make It. Only the directions and the materials needed will change every 2 weeks. Here is a fun picture of the board.
The students will need a spiral or composition notebook to place their work, which can be checked easily by you (and no loose papers flying everywhere). All the directions are on the signs for the board, and most materials are included. For example, Shelley even includes the "newspaper" articles and any handouts or charts/graphs that you could possibly need. You will need to gather a few items, such as magazines for collages for example for different projects. But overall, it has everything already ready to use! Even the paper strips for the students to place in their notebooks, along with real picture examples are shown!
Check out some of the pictures:
I KNOW this item could be used by so many teachers to keep students occupied after work is done. You never have to hear "What do I do now?" 50 times a day. Once students have been trained and know how to use the board, they can head straight that way to get their next item and return to their desks to complete the items as they have time. When it is time to move on, they close up their notebooks and move on with the rest of the class!
I always had a rule in my class: You are never allowed to do nothing. Ever. This activity would definitely enforce that rule.
I am also not a huge fan of asking students to do silent reading all the time. On occasion is fine, but some get really good at "pretending" to read their books, and end up goofing off or daydreaming instead. This option is not only filled with some higher-level thinking activities and alternate assessments, but since it changes every two weeks, it will continue to remain a novelty. That is an important piece for sure in maintaining student interest.
Ok - the best part? Shelley has agreed to do a giveaway of THREE of her entire 40 week Early Finishers Board (you can also buy the weeks separately, but this set is for the entire year!) Wow! Fill out the form below to get entered to win - and stop by her blog post (HERE) to have a chance to win one of THREE Beach Themed Classroom Essentials Sets I am giving away on her blog!
See you there!
Winners (notified via email): Beth J., Nancy B., Janice A.